The Business Transition Blog

Back to Basics

Here’s the basic question: If YOU don’t address and plan for your succession and the transition of your business, who the heck do you think will?

Burying your head in the sand, looking away, putting your head down, putting your nose to the grindstone, are all euphemisms for denying this obvious and necessary question. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic didn’t put off the inevitable. Your business is going to change from your hands to someone else’s. Period. The question is, how and when. “If” isn’t in the equation at all.

What are your options?

  • You can do it in advance, on purpose, with a plan, giving yourself options, control and time to make the best of it.
  • You can leave it to someone else to do without your permission, your insights, your strategies, your concern for employees and customers and hopes for the future.

If you were to die with your boots on, without a plan in place, here are some possibilities:

  • Your employees could carry on, doing their best to keep the business going, keep their jobs and pay your family what they can out of profits – if there are any. But if they have the ability to do that when you’re gone, you should get them to do it now so you can oversee the process and coach them so they do it well.
  • Your kids or spouse could take over. Maybe that’s the informal plan anyway, but if it is, you should formalize it now when you are still confidently in control and able to mentor them and help them succeed. You might also find that they aren’t interested and you need to come up with Plan B before it’s too late.
  • Your creditors could call your loans and force your family or estate to sell even if it isn’t the best time in the market to do so.
  • Your former spouse or a shareholder could demand that the business be sold for pennies on the dollar. 

There are other options, but they don’t get much better. As the owner of the business you have an obligation – a responsibility to do what needs to be done so that when the time comes – and it will come – your business will transition according to your plans and wishes, not someone else’s. Because that’s the basic question: If you don’t initiate it, who will? That doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own, but you do have to make the first step and get help.